6 Things I Wish I'd Known 10 Years Ago

October 12, 2011

Posted in Personal.

Inspired by Katya’s post, Six Things I Wish I’d Known 20 Years Ago.

My blog is 5 years old, and I’ve been working professionally in this industry for a decade. Reading Katya Andresen’s blog got me thinking about what I would have told my young self, just embarking on a career (without quite realizing that’s what I was doing).

Find mentors, for they can help you know what you don’t know.

At 22, I started my first company. I didn’t really understand what I was doing with our business. My partner and I were winging it, and we made a lot of mistakes. We learned from those mistakes, but we didn’t always recognize those lessons at the time. Build relationships with smart, experienced people and learn as much as you can from them.

Create and publish – content, tools, ideas.

It took me five years before I started blogging. As I noted in my very first blog post, I was advising clients to blog long before I was doing it myself. I was writing code that would have been useful to others and I was solving problems that others needed solutions for. I should have published those ideas, shared my code, and gotten credit for the work I had done. Experts are people you seek out and hire to solve your problems.

A live product is worth a thousand un-launched ideas.

Ideas aren’t worth the napkins on which they’re sketched.

Ideas aren’t worth the napkins on which they’re sketched. It’s depressing to see a company hit it big with an idea you had and never pursued. Before the dot-com bust, I had written a niche social network and had great success with the small pilot run. I could see stable revenue streams and had a business model that would work. I never went public with it, because I couldn’t finish it out. I believed it had to be perfect before I could go live, and that paralysis cost me a chance at a successful business.

Volunteer early and often.

I’ve written on my non-profit blog about the benefits of volunteering. There are thousands of small non-profits that need help, need new ideas, new blood. In exchange, you get the opportunity to develop new skills by simply volunteering to take on responsibilities. And you get to grow your small, but invaluable network.

Find your passion and become great at it.

If you love your work, you’ll want to do it. You’ll get good at it. And you’ll get paid because you’re good at it. The money follows. So do something you love. Of course, it also helps to look at what people will pay for (it’s a lot harder to get paid to play video games, even if you’re really good).

Plant a tree today.

There’s an African proverb that goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time to play a tree is today.” It’s never too late to make changes that will pay off down the road. Or, you know, plant a real tree.

1 Comment

  1. ejean1981 — March 19, 2012

    I wish I had known about seeking out a mentor, many years ago when I started my first job. I think I could have avoided a lot of the bumps and bruises along the way, if I had had a guide who knew the profession.